5 On Your Side

Honeymooners: Travel Agent Left Them 'Stranded'

Posted August 27, 2007
Updated August 29, 2007

Marital bliss is supposed to follow a wedding, but a Durham couple said their independent travel agent left them stranded during their European honeymoon.

Charles and Noriko Wade booked a honeymoon to Rome, Paris and London through independent travel agent Sandy Tabron of Small World Travel &Tours, based in Benson. They said they paid Tabron $5,726 to arrange the trip.

"I was real excited, because, you know, it's on my life list of things to do," Noriko Wade said.

However, train tickets and tour vouchers were missing from their travel packet, which arrived a couple months before the honeymoon. Charles Wade said he contacted Tabron and she said the items would be waiting at their hotel in Rome.

"That wasn't the situation. When we got there, you know, they (the hotel staff) kind of just looked at us like, 'We don't speak English.' We were lost," Charles Wade said.

The couple said they called and e-mailed Tabron about the missing tickets and vouchers.

"She kept saying, 'I'm so sorry. I can't believe this has happened. Are you sure the tickets aren't there?'" Noriko Wade said.

"Everything that we heard from her was, 'We're trying. I'm not sure.' And those are things you just don't want to hear when you're stranded," Charles Wade said.

After the newlyweds spent an extra day in Rome, Tabron got them on a flight to Paris, but her efforts ended there, the Wades said.

The couple didn't have enough cash or credit to continue the honeymoon on their own dime, so they paid to change their airline tickets and come home early, they said.

"She was trying to be apologetic but, at the same time, couldn't really offer us anything until we got back, which wasn't very helpful when you're not here and stuck in Europe," Noriko Wade said.

The Wades said they also received a refund for their London hotel but felt they were owed around $1,600 for the airline change fees, the missing train tickets and other expenses.

Tabron did not respond to their inquiries but did talk to Five On Your Side.

She told 5OYS that she "fixed it the best she could," and then admitted she "could have made things better" for the newlyweds.

She sent the Wades a letter promising an additional $1,465 refund, to which they agreed. Tabron promised to 5OYS that the couple would have their refund by the end of September.

Fred Boucher, the owner of Small World, said that Tabron never told him about the Wades' travel woes. He called the whole incident "mind boggling" and apologized.

Boucher offered to arrange another trip for the Wades at cost.

He also said that Tabron no longer works as a representative of Small World.

The Wades said they learned an important travel tip from the experience.

"Don't leave without everything in your hands," Noriko Wade said.


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  • skaternum Aug 30, 2007

    It is very common for a travel agent to deliver all your hotel vouchers and tickets to the first hotel of your trip. I've done this numerous times without incident.

    Also, there are still lots of people who use travel agents for the convenience. I'm an experienced traveler, I used to live in western Europe, and I often use a travel agent. They can get a comparable price and it's convenient.

  • bridgegate Aug 30, 2007

    I have worked with Small World Travel for several years as a representative from a cruise line. Small World Travel is a professional and well respected travel agency. My company has never had any issues with Small World Travel. They delivered the services they had contracted to deliver for the client. Small World Travel does not sell train tickets. The client could have purchased them in Europe. The question should be why did WRAL not fully investigate this claim? With a small amount of research they could have found that a rail pass could be purchased in Europe which would have saved the client $1600 in change fees and other expenses.

  • SparkyzSportz Aug 30, 2007

    I would love to know exactly "when" the docs arrived. They say the rail tickets were not in the packet "which arrived 2 months earlier." If the couple checked the docs a week or 2 prior instead of when those arrived, they could have gotten the agent more time to get the new rail tickets.

    I agree with many that 5OYS seems to have made more out of this story than what really was there. There are some poor business' out there, but this does not seem like one.

  • GWALLY Aug 30, 2007

    ...this is a prime example of not believing every thing you read or hear in the media and doing your own research...!! Have used SmallWorld Travel on two separate occasions and their service was impeccable. Will use them again !!
    ...Now with that said....This couple (I'm sure) experienced some major travel difficulties. However WRAL is making a bad event worse by not checking the back-story or all the facts....just threw a horror story out there for everyone to draw their own conclusions and assume the agency did something wrong. That is how you ruin a small business' reputation. Half truths are just as damaging as no truths.

  • TomLynda Aug 30, 2007

    I have read the comments and the ones that are saying that this travel agency is bad, done and all that are full of hot air. I have known Fred Boucher and his family for about 25 or so years, worked with him before his venture into the travel business and have had dealings with him since. I highly respect the man, his family and company. He runs his business and if he has faults it was trusting an employee too completely. He will make good on the refund and I'll wager that he will in fact offer a completely free trip to the couple. Remember, this stuff hit him blindsided, and employee covering up stuff and then Five on your side shows up. I have booked travel with him and will do so in the future, with no reservation. I highly endorse him and his family and would encourage any to check him out and use his services. And I will sign my name to this. Thanks, Tom Slaughter, a satisfied customer and friend of Fred Boucher.

  • 1Moms_View Aug 29, 2007

    Sounds like HIS cousin is the one that screwed up. She should be the one to refund his money not the SMall World Travel.

  • shanellenorris Aug 29, 2007

    I am so sorry to hear about the couple's misfortunate experience. BUT I have done business with Small World Travel for a number of year, this year makes 9 to be exact. I have had nothing but great service with the agency, they have booked several cruises for me, my family, and friends.

    Every trip that I have taken: HAS BEEN ALL THAT, from beginning to end. I do not foresee changing travel agents because they make the whole process move so swiftly. And a matter of fact - I am counting down the days NOW to set sail for this year.

    So, to the staff of Small World Travel "KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK"!


  • wagnere Aug 29, 2007

    Small World Travel and GoGo Worldwide Vacations had no affiliation with the rail tickets and tours. Sandy Tabron,who is no longer an outside agent with Small World, owns Serenity Travel and also happens to be Charles' cousin. She is the one who booked the rail tickets and tours for them directly thru her agency. Charles Wade & Noriko Rouse needs to deal with Serenity Travel about their refund. GoGo Worldwide Vacations and Small World have refunded the unused portion of their trip. Small World Travel is a professional travel agency. GoGo Worldwide Vacations has been in business for over 50 years.
    Before you jump to conclusion make sure you have all the facts on both sides.

  • letsgocruisin2 Aug 29, 2007

    As a long term client, I must say that in 14yrs of booking travel with Small World Travel, I have never had a single issue. I have booked more than 40 cruises and several land packages, including Europe through Small World Travel. Mr. Boucher has been the utmost professional and always helpful. Everything we have ever requested has been provided. This incident will certainly not make me or my family go to any other travel agent. We are definitely loyal clients of Small World Travel and will continue to use their services for all future travel.

  • Groovy Aug 29, 2007

    with all of the information available to us on the internet i think travel agents are going the way of the dinosaur. i booked my honeymoon online myself and had a wonderful time without any problems. i agree that they should get a free trip at least. Small World Travel did do the right thing by letting the slacker go.